Mark Boucher    Getty Images
Mark Boucher Getty Images

In the recent times, India have prided themselves as one of the better fielding units in the world. However, in the ongoing South African tour, this is one area that has let them down. Be it slips, behind the stumps or judging near the ropes, the catching has been below par. Mark Boucher believes that the angles Indians are standing at slips are “completely wrong.”

The former South African wicket knows a lot about pouching them. Between his debut in 1997 and retirement in 2012, Boucher nabbed 999 international dismissals the most by a cricketer. Boucher says it is important to adapt to conditions, even when fielding.

“The conditions are different. The ball in the slips comes a lot higher, a lot quicker. The angles the Indians are standing in the slips are completely wrong. A couple of balls, especially to left-handers when the bowlers come around the wicket, the first slip has to be tighter. In India, because the edges come a lot slowly, you have time to move. In South Africa, the edges come quickly and fairly high. Your keeper hasn t got enough time to move, which means the first slip has to come closer. Once again, the more they play in South African conditions, the more they will learn about these sort of things. Unfortunately, they didn t learn quickly enough and are 2-0 down,” Boucher told Hindustan Times.

Despite the 0-2 scoreline, Boucher defended the No.1 ranked Indian side and doesn’t believe that overconfidence did them and mentioned it was about getting acclimatised to conditions. He believes South Africa thrived because their batters are used to these conditions and play better against the rising and moving balls.

“I don t think so [that overconfidence did India]. The conditions in Cape Town were tough. India have got some fantastic batsmen, (but) probably batsmen who aren t used to those sort of conditions. Being a South African cricketer and knowing what our players can do, I always felt comfortable our batsmen can handle seam movement better than the Indians because they are playing that all the time.

“Our bowlers are taller. Looking at the wicket at SuperSport (for the second Test), when a wicket is up and down, the taller you are the more advantage you got in a bowling attack. There are a couple of Indian bowlers who are tall, but the other guys are quite short. So you can be on the front foot to them. There weren t too many Indian batsmen hanging on to their front foot to any of our bowlers. That plays a major role. But I think it s really the batsmen. You have got a few classy batsmen, but they aren t used to seeing this amount of movement and playing long innings,” the 41-year-old said.

“Fantastic” Kohli

Boucher is the coach of Titans that is home to Aiden Markram, Lungi Ngidi and Dean Elgar. All three have made vital contributions towards South Africa’s series. As a former teammate of Virat Kohli at Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), Boucher has seen Kohli grow as a youngster. He backed the Indian captain and was full of praises.

“Virat Kohli has been fantastic. I know Virat s very emotional and his passion comes through. I have played with him (at RCB) and I understand that. I fully respect that. He plays at a very high intensity and expects that from the players as well. And I think the players have responded to him very well. Technically, there s not too much he has done wrong. Maybe a couple of fielding positions here and there but Virat s still learning. He is very young as a captain and hasn t played a lot of cricket in South Africa. He has been inspirational, led from the front.

“He had a great knock at SuperSport. He really tried hard in the second innings in tough conditions in Cape Town. For me, he certainly ticks the boxes as captain and player at the moment. He has used what he had at his disposal very well. He will get better as he plays more in these conditions,” the South African analysed the Indian captain.

Poll: Is Prithvi Shaw ready for Test cricket?
Poll: Is Prithvi Shaw ready for Test cricket?

Boucher feels Ajinkya Rahane’s exclusion worked in South Africa’s favour as the Indian vice-captain has an impressive record overseas.

More miseries for India?

From the four Tests India have played at Johannesburg, they are yet to lose. In fact, in 2006-07, this was the venue where India registered their first Test win in South African soil. Earlier, they had come close to winning, in 1996-97.

So what to expect from Johannesburg?

“A lot greener (pitch) than what you have seen,” added Boucher. “The one wicket the South Africans will be licking their lips to play on is at the Wanderers. We know it s definitely going to be the quickest and the one with the most bounce. But India have also won a Test here. So, if they bowl in the right areas, they can also put pressure on the South Africa batsmen. I think with the height of our bowlers, India s batsmen have to work really hard to get their runs. There will be a few balls flying past their ears as well.”

The Johannesburg Test starts from January 24.